Sunday, March 24, 2013
Crawford getting comfortable back in outfield
By Jason Catania
The Los Angeles Dodgers are starting to let outfielder Carl Crawford, still recovering from his surgically repaired left elbow, ramp up his work as he prepares for the season.
After serving as the designated hitter in his four previous spring games, Crawford finally made his debut in left field Saturday, writes the L.A. Times' Dylan Hernandez.
The veteran played the first three innings against the White Sox and didn't have to make a single play.
Crawford remains determined to be ready for Opening Day. "I should be real comfortable out there by April 1," Crawford said afterward.
Manager Don Mattingly said recently that if Crawford isn't ready to play nine innings in the outfield by the first few games of the season, it was still a possibility that he could be on the active roster for pinch-hitting, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
Crawford is expected to bat leadoff for the Dodgers, and that's a role he covets, writes ESPN Insider Jim Bowden, who brings up the club's struggles in that department in 2012: "The Dodgers were 15th in the NL last season in on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot (.281); only the Reds were worse. The Reds solved that problem by acquiring Shin-Soo Choo; the Dodgers now have Crawford."
If Crawford isn't ready to go when the real games start, or if he needs to be paired with another outfielder as a caddy, the Dodgers are likely to use veteran utility players Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston in left field.
ESPN's Eric Karabell has the fantasy spin on Crawford's injury issues heading into the season:
Eric KarabellCrawford can't be counted on
"Crawford used to be a fantastic fantasy option, but injuries have wrecked his career, and there's little indication that big numbers or even a full season of games are pending in 2013. Crawford played in only 31 games last season, and like the season before, he didn't show the ability to get on base. Over the past two seasons covering 161 games, Crawford has drawn 26 walks and fanned 126 times. While his injured elbow, which still doesn't appear to be healed, surely affected his hitting, he wasn't stealing bases at a high rate, either. A move to the National League and Dodger Stadium isn't likely to make things better. Simply put, Crawford is not a fantasy starter anymore."